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Cleft Lip Surgery: Diagnosis, Procedure, & Recovery

Is your child born with a cleft lip? Consult Pristyn Care’s esteemed plastic surgeons and get their help to create a customized cleft lip treatment plan for your child. We provide safe and advanced surgical treatment for unilateral and bilateral cleft lip repair. Book a consultation with our expert plastic surgeons.

Is your child born with a cleft lip? Consult Pristyn Care’s esteemed plastic surgeons and get their help to create a customized cleft lip ... Read More

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What is Cleft Lip & Types of Cleft Lip

A cleft lip is a congenital condition in which there is a split or gap in the upper lip. It occurs during early pregnancy when the tissue that forms the lip does not fully come together. This can result in a visible gap or opening in the lip, and it can range in severity from a small notch to a larger gap that extends into the nose.

Cleft lip and palate are among the most common birth defects. The classification of a cleft lip is as follows: 

  • Forme Fruste Unilateral Cleft Lip: Also known as microform cleft lip, it is the isolated form of a cleft lip where the cleft may appear as a vertical scar from the lip to the nose. Though the cleft may not be obvious in this case, the condition can still cause problems with the functionality of the lips (orbicularis oris muscle). This can cause issues with eating, drinking, and speech. 
  • Incomplete Unilateral Cleft Lip: In this type of cleft lip, the clefting is only on one side and is incomplete, i.e., it doesn’t extend to the nose completely. An incomplete unilateral cleft can take on a variety of appearances with distortion in the nose. 
  • Complete Unilateral Cleft Lip: This type of cleft lip affects only one side of the upper lip and is the most common. In unilateral cleft lip, the cleft extends from the lip all the way to the nose, which disrupts the continuity of the orbicularis oris muscle, leading to significant issues with speaking, eating, and drinking. 
  • Incomplete Bilateral Cleft Lip: In an incomplete bilateral cleft lip, there are substantial gaps on both sides of the upper lip, but the nostrils and philtral dimple are still intact. The degree of functionality issues may vary depending on how far up the cleft extends. 
  • Complete Bilateral Cleft Lip: This type of cleft lip has a deformity on both sides of the lip, and there are no philtral columns, philtral dimples, or orbicularis muscle. On both sides, the cleft lip extends to the nostril, and the lack of orbicularis muscle leads to speech difficulty, feeding problems, and dental issues.  

Cleft lips can often be detected through prenatal ultrasounds, and they are usually addressed through surgical repair. Through the various techniques of cleft lip surgery, the surgeon will focus on recreating the lip’s natural “Cupid’s Bow” shape, adjusting the lip structure, normalizing the symmetry of nostrils, and masking the scar. To learn all about cleft lip treatment, call Pristyn Care and talk to our expert doctors. 

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Care Plan for Children with Cleft Lip

Children who are born with a cleft often require a tailored cleft lip treatment plan to meet their individual needs. The typical care plan for cleft lip looks like this.

  • Birth to 6 weeks- Feeding assistance, parental support, hearing tests, and pediatric assessment
  • 3 to 6 months- Surgery to repair the cleft lip 
  • 6 to 12 months- Surgery to repair cleft palate 
  • 18 months- Speech assessment 
  • 3 years- Speech assessment 
  • 5 years- Speech assessment 
  • 8 to 12 years- Bone graft to repair the cleft in the gum area
  • 12 to 15 years- Orthodontic treatment and monitoring the jaw growth 

Throughout the growth period, the child needs to attend regular outpatient appointments with the doctor for proper monitoring of the problems. 

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Diagnosis & Evaluations Before Cleft Lip Repair

Prior to cleft lip treatment, several important diagnoses and evaluations are typically conducted to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient. These assessments help the doctor to understand the severity of the cleft, the overall health of the patient, and any potential complications that might arise during or after surgery. Here are some of the key evaluations: 

Once the assessments are done, the surgeon will present the treatment and repair plan to the parents, disclose the risks and complications, and also give an idea of what to expect after surgery. The family is educated and informed well enough to have realistic expectations and prepare themselves for the challenges and care involved with cleft lip repair. 

Why Choose Pristyn Care?

Benefit Others Pristyn Care
CutsMultiple Minimal
Blood LossMaximum Minimal
Scars & StitchesYes Minimal
RecoveryLow High
Follow Up ConsultationNo Yes
TechnologyTraditional Advanced
Hospital DurationLong Short
No Cost EMI No Yes

Cleft Lip Surgery

A cleft lip surgery is a procedure to correct the deformity in the upper lips. It is also called cheiloplasty or lip revision surgery. The goal of cleft lip treatment is to repair the cleft and restore the sphincter function of the orbicularis oris muscle. The procedure also focuses on the cosmetic aspect to ensure normal growth of the lip. If the cleft lip presents with a cleft palate, too, cleft lip surgery may also be combined with a cleft palate repair. 

Most plastic surgeons believe that the best age for a child to undergo cleft lip repair surgery is between 10 and 12 weeks. This age is advantageous for patients as early surgery ensures that the cleft doesn’t develop further or in an abnormal manner. Moreover, the patient will heal quickly and won’t remember the recovery process. If the surgery is delayed, there is a higher risk of patients developing speech disorders. 

In some cases, there may be some contraindications of cleft lip repair, due to which the surgery may get delayed. This may happen if further workup of the patient’s health and underlying conditions is required or if the patient has other conditions whose surgical treatment is more important. 

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Types of Cleft Lip Repair

There are a few different techniques used for cleft lip repair, depending on the severity and type of cleft. The two main types of cleft lip repair surgery are the Millard Rotation-Advancement Technique (also known as the “Millard Technique”) and the Tennison-Randall Technique. These techniques differ in their approaches to closing the cleft and achieving a more natural lip appearance. 

Besides the above-mentioned techniques, some other methods are also used to improve the outcomes of cleft lip repair surgery, such as a lip-taping regimen, nasal elevator, and nasal-alveolar molding (NAM) device. These methods are non-invasive and can dramatically enhance the shape and appearance of the child’s upper lip, nose, and mouth.  

Benefits of Cleft Lip Repair

Cleft lip repair surgery offers numerous benefits to individuals born with cleft lips. These benefits extend beyond the cosmetic aspect and greatly impact both physical and emotional well-being. Here are some of the key benefits of cleft lip repair:

It should be noted that cleft lip repair surgery alone may not be sufficient for all patients born with a cleft lip and/or palate. Future surgical interventions, speech therapy, orthodontic treatments, etc., may be required. 

Preparation Before Cleft Lip Surgery

Several pre-operative instructions are given to the patient’s family to ensure his/her safety, comfort, and the surgery’s success. The specific instructions might vary based on the treatment plan and the child’s health. Some common instructions given by the surgeon may include the following:

If the child becomes ill (has a cough, cold, or fever), notify the surgeon and his/her team right away so that the surgery can be postponed. 

Cleft Lip Repair Procedure

The procedure for cleft lip repair involves several steps, and the specific details may vary based on the surgeon’s technique, the severity of the cleft, and the individual patient’s needs. 

In the case of unilateral cleft, only one surgery is required. But if the child has bilateral cleft and it’s extensive, two surgeries may be performed. One side of the cleft is corrected first, and the second side is corrected a few weeks later. The most common procedure to repair a cleft lip is the Millard technique, whose steps are explained below in detail. 

The entire cleft lip repair procedure may take around 1 to 2 hours or more, depending on the severity of the condition and the type of repair done. In the case of bilateral cleft lip repair, a second surgery will be performed similarly or through a different technique to correct the deformity in the upper lip completely. 

What to Expect After Cleft Lip Surgery?

Immediately after the surgery, expect the child to feel mild pain. He/she might be irritated, and the treated area will be swollen and bruised. 

Soft splints or cuffs are placed around the child’s arm to prevent them from touching his/her lip. This can further make the child uncomfortable and agitated. It is safe to feed breastmilk or formula shortly after the surgery, but there might be some difficulty in doing so. 

An intravenous catheter will be attached to the child to give him/her fluids until he/she can drink. In most cases, hospitalization is not needed after cleft lip surgery. Thus, the child is discharged after a few hours, and the parents are given detailed instructions for post-operative care. 

Results & Recovery Timeline After Cleft Lip Treatment

The results of cleft lip surgery will take some time to become clearly visible due to the bruising, swelling, and redness around the lips. As the child heals, the results will become more apparent. The results and recovery timeline will be as follows: 

As the recovery process will take around 2 to 4 weeks, the parents will have to be extra attentive to care for the child to ensure a smooth recovery and successful outcome. The outcome will be determined based on how well the parents take care of the child. Therefore, it is important to follow the doctor’s instructions. 

Risks & Complications of Cleft Lip Surgery

Undergoing cleft lip repair surgery is critical for the child’s development and quality of life. But that doesn’t mean that the surgery is risk-free. There are several risks and complications associated with the procedure. Thus, the surgeon will explain them in detail, and the parents are asked to sign the consent form to confirm that they fully understand the procedure and its potential risks and complications. 

Other than these, there are some side effects of cleft lip surgery, such as bleeding, bruising, swelling, and redness around the lips, nose, and cheeks. Typically, the surgeon takes the potential complications into consideration while planning the procedure and recommends certain measures to reduce the risk of developing these complications. Still, some complications may develop, and the child may require additional care. 

Post-Op Care Tips Recommended After Cleft Lip Repair

Once the cleft lip is repaired, both parents will have to take a proactive approach to the child’s care to ensure a successful outcome of the surgery and prevent future complications. The recommended tips required, but are not limited to the following: 

Parents are also asked to look out for the signs of infection or other post-op complications, which include trouble breathing, wheezing, skin discoloration, unresponsive, or seizure-like activity. 

Cleft Lip Surgery Cost in India

In India, cleft lip surgery costs range from Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 60,000 or more. The overall cost of cleft lip repair depends on multiple factors and varies from one patient to another. The key factors that influence cleft lip surgery cost in India are

To get a specific cost estimate for cleft lip surgery, get in touch with Pristyn Care. 

Does Health Insurance Cover Cleft Lip Surgery?

A cleft lip is a serious medical condition, and its treatment is deemed medically necessary under all circumstances. Thus, the expenses of the clef lip surgery are covered by health insurance. 

However, there are several requisites that parents need to follow to get their child’s treatment covered under health insurance. These requisites include:

To learn more about the available insurance plans for newborn children, it’ll be best to talk to the health insurance provider. 


What are the signs of complications after cleft lip surgery?

If the child experiences any of the following after the surgery, the parents should take him/her to see a doctor immediately.

  • Fever higher than usual and doesn’t respond to medication.
  • Breathing issues with blue/pale skin color. 
  • Bleeding from the nose and/or mouth. 
  • Pus or blood leaking from the incisions.
  • Signs of dehydration, such as no tears when crying, sunken eyes, dry mouth, etc. 
  • Persistent redness and swelling in the mouth. 
  • The stitches are torn or loose. 

How much does cleft lip surgery cost in India?

The cost of cleft lip surgery in India ranges from Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 75,000 approximately. The actual cost will vary for each patient depending on various factors, such as the surgeon’s fee, the extent of the cleft, diagnostic tests, hospital-related expenses, etc.

Is cleft lip surgery covered by health insurance?

Yes, cleft lip surgery cost is covered by health insurance. However, there are some prerequisites. Firstly, a certified doctor must prescribe the surgery for the child. Furthermore, the parents have to file a request to include their child in the insurance plan. To understand the terms and conditions associated with the health insurance policy, talk to the insurance provider.

How successful is cleft lip surgery?

In most cases, cleft lip repair surgery is quite successful without no lasting problems. As the treatment plan is tailored to the child’s needs, there are fewer risks of something going wrong. The success rate generally varies from 90% to 95% for most patients.

Why is cleft lip repair needed as early as possible?

Cleft lip repair is mostly performed when the child is between 3 to 6 months of age. Early repair ensures that the child doesn’t have a major scar due to the surgery and develops healthy habits of eating and drinking without any difficulty. 

How can I get in touch with Pristyn Care’s plastic surgeons?

To get in touch with Pristyn Care’s plastic surgeons, you can use any of the following ways- 

  • Give us a call at the number given at the top, and our care coordinators will schedule your consultation with the best plastic surgeon available near you. 
  • Fill out the “Book Appointment” form and submit your details. Our coordinators will get back to you shortly to discuss the appointment details. 
  • Download the Pristyn Care application on your phone and browse the list of plastic surgeons available near you. Confirm the appointment personally at a date and time which is convenient for you.

What causes a cleft lip?

A cleft lip is generally caused by genetic and environmental factors that inhibit fetal growth. Due to this, the fusion of the orbicularis oris muscle that usually takes place in the 2nd and 3rd months of pregnancy doesn’t occur, leaving an opening or cleft.

What age is cleft lip surgery for?

In most cases, cleft lip repair surgery is suitable for children who are at least 3 months old. The surgery is recommended to be done within the first year of the child’s life to ensure they develop proper eating and drinking habits and don’t face speech or dental issues in the growth years.

How common is cleft lip in India?

A cleft lip is the fourth most common birth defect in Indian children. Annually, around 27,000 to 33,000 children are born in India with cleft lip alone, which is very prevalent.

When is the best time to repair a cleft lip?

To learn more about the available insurance plans for newborn children, it’ll be best to talk to the health insurance provider.

Our Patient Love Us

  • TM

    Tripti Mumukshu


    Pristyn Care has been a blessing in my life for the cleft lip repair surgery. From the very beginning, they showed unparalleled professionalism and empathy. The medical team's expertise and caring nature made me feel at ease throughout the process. The surgery was a resounding success, and the post-operative care provided by the nursing staff was exceptional. The transformation is remarkable, and I couldn't be happier with the results. Pristyn Care's dedication to patient satisfaction and their seamless services are truly commendable. I highly recommend Pristyn Care to anyone seeking cleft lip repair surgery.

    City : DELHI
  • AA

    Abhisar Ahir


    My baby was born with a cleft lip, and we were anxious about his future. Pristyn Care's specialized team of pediatric surgeons performed corrective surgery with utmost care. Our baby's smile looks perfect now, and we are forever grateful to Pristyn Care for their exceptional care.

    City : AHMEDABAD
  • PD

    Priyali Dikshit


    I am immensely grateful to Pristyn Care for performing a life-changing cleft lip repair surgery on my child. From the moment we arrived at Pristyn Care, we felt reassured by the caring and compassionate environment. The team of surgeons and medical staff demonstrated exceptional expertise and professionalism. The surgery was a success, and the results were beyond our expectations. Pristyn Care provided comprehensive post-operative care, ensuring a smooth recovery for my child. The transformation in their appearance and confidence is remarkable. I highly recommend Pristyn Care for cleft lip repair surgery to any parent seeking expert care and exceptional results for their child.

    City : LUCKNOW
  • PS

    Pramod Saxena


    My child had a cleft lip repair surgery at Pristyn Care, and the results are remarkable. The plastic surgeon was great with kids and made sure my little one was comfortable. Pristyn Care's support during the entire process was outstanding. Highly recommend!

  • SS

    Shashikala Som


    Undergoing cleft lip treatment was an emotional journey, and Pristyn Care's support made all the difference. Their expert team's care and modern technology were evident. The treatment was well-coordinated, and I've regained my self-assuredness. Pristyn Care truly understands the importance of holistic healing.

  • ST

    Suraj Tendulkar


    Pristyn Care's cleft lip repair surgery was a life-changing experience for me. The plastic surgeon was skilled, and the results are beyond my expectations. The post-operative care was thorough, and I'm grateful to Pristyn Care for this transformation.

    City : PATNA

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